I was thinking I would write more this week about the unbelievably fantastic life of a writer in 21st century America. (21st, right? I’m still getting that mixed up.) It’s such a full life, replete with, oh, lots of things, oxygen and the alphabet and, um, lunch, yes, lunch every day. Ah, what it is to be a writer, like being a gourmet cook at McDonalds, like an architect on a desert island. I imagine you, even as I write this, closing your eyes, sighing, thinking If only it was me. Yes, I know. I know. But it’s not you.
So where was I before a flash flood of snarkiness swept me in my old car down the canyon? I was going to provide an update on progress in writing the current novel. This book will have three parts, and parts one and two are done (you understand that when I say “done” I mean not done, with lots of revision and thought and editing still to do). But the 99th draft of parts 1 and 2 is complete, so that counts as first draft.
Overall, then, the book is two thirds done on a first draft. Man, that calls for a drink. Then again, most things call for a drink, so I need a more evocative way to celebrate. Maybe I’ll go throw beer bottles at the moon. I’ve also been working more assiduously at coming up with a title for the book (you understand that when I say “assiduously” I mean sitting here at the computer for hours with my head in my hands moaning, weeping, finally going off to bed).
I have spent—and I’m not joking—years now trying to come up with a title so sublime, so graceful, so ingenious, that people will want to tattoo it on intimate parts of their body. A title like that takes time. Although someday when you finally see the title, you may think, “Did this dumbass title really take years to think of?” Yes, it did.
In addition to progress on writing the novel, like a white arrow gleaming in the sunlight as it rushes through the cool morning air—like that, that kind of progress, in addition to that, I’m in the process of self publishing a second book, this one a collection of short stories. It’s a very slow process, just as it would be at a publishing company. I want a high quality on the final book, so I’m currently paying an editor to go through it, and after that I need to work through the stories again considering all her comments.
It’s not fast, and it’s not cheap. And even though I’ve already self published one book, I feel a slight, vague anxiety about this process, as though I’ve never done it. I certainly do not feel like a pro, unless “pro” is short for “probably want a beer”. Once this phase of editing is done, then I’ll have someone proofread it, and I also still need to have a cover designed. You can get a really great cover if you pay for it (such as the cover I ended up with for The Illusion of Being Here). And I will pay. The book of short stories does have a title, by the way. It’s called I’d Tear Down the Stars. Feel free to tattoo it somewhere.
Oh, yes, and regarding actually selling a self published book, which I hear some people do, I just read an article this week in Publishers Weekly specifically on that topic. Here are three quotes I’ve pulled from the article:
- “It is Facebook’s way of placing value on content for brands”
- “more opportunities for cross-pollination between marketing platforms and tools”
- “more valuable than helping authors share books, the tool also offers in-depth analytics”
You probably know more than I do, so you’re probably not reading those phrases thinking “What in Christ’s name is all that bullshit?” But that’s what I’m thinking. Is this what you’re supposed to know to be a writer?
I was born in the wrong century. The only comfort I can take is that no matter what century I was born in, it would have been the wrong one. That’s why I’m a writer.